Aspen-area bus drivers ratify union contract

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Ed Cortez, left, president of the union local chapter for RFTA bus drivers, and Mike Jenkins cast their ballots Monday. The measure was approved 76-0.
Courtesy photo |

The Aspen area’s public-bus drivers voted Monday to ratify a contract with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1774 voted 76 to 0 to accept the deal hammered out earlier this month in collective bargaining, according to Ed Cortez, a driver and president of the union local. He said there were 133 drivers eligible to vote. The turnout was 57 percent. Some drivers were on vacation while others were off Monday or chose not to vote, he said. Voting was open at RFTA’s maintenance facilities in Glenwood Springs and Aspen from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Union leadership met with drivers Saturday to describe the deal. Bargaining teams that included RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship and Cortez hashed out the proposal Dec. 2 through 5. The contract will be in effect for three years.

RFTA’s board of directors unofficially endorsed the deal at its Dec. 10 meeting. The board approved a budget that was affected by the deal with the bus drivers.

Details of the contract haven’t been released. The details will be available after the board of directors looks specifically at the contract at its Jan. 14 meeting, according to Cortez.

Drivers’ pay and the rate at which they get raises were key issues heading into collective bargaining.

“I liked everything about the contract,” Cortez said. “It’s a plan we put together a year and a half ago.

“First and foremost, we were pleased with the financial package we got for our drivers,” he added. Other provisions of the contract revolved around quality-of-life issues, he said.

The bus drivers voted 65-22 in March to join the union.

“It’s been a long process — long hours, lots of talking,” Cortez said.